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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Douglas on January 21, 2009

Vicky and Dicky

When the invention of the time machine was announced to the world, everyone assumed that this would usher in a new era of knowledge and enlightenment. We would set up meetings between the great leaders of the ages, and let them discuss their experiences, their ideals and values, and their hopes for the human race. Surely, if people can exchange ideas across the centuries, that would be of benefit to all of humanity - past, present, and future - right?

It turns out it wasn't quite as simple as that. What none of us realized is that, just as people from vastly different cultures have little frame of reference from which to understand each other, people from different cultures and different times have even less reference point for useful conversation.

As an example, take Case Study #9736-A: When Vicky met Dicky. We all thought it would be fascinating to observe the exchanges between a British monarch from the late 1800s and a US President in the late 1900s. Alas, Queen Victoria and Richard Nixon were unable to connect on any meaningful level.

Things got off to a bad start when Dicky's secretary offered Vicky a cup of coffee. It wasn't the coffee that caused a ruckus; it was the skirt that left a pair of shapely ankles exposed to the world. Vicky was appalled that Dicky would allow such things in his country.

They didn't get off that subject for several excruciating minutes, during which Dicky felt like a little child being browbeaten by his aged grandmother.

The conversation went from bad to worse, and was filled with misunderstandings both disturbing and comical. My personal favorite was when Dicky, trying desperately to impress Vicky, took credit for a project that -arguably - he had very little to do with. "During my first year in office as president, I sent men to the moon."

This silenced Vicky for several long seconds, and we wondered what might be going through her mind; surely, to her, this must seem an utterly outrageous claim. Then, unflappable as ever, the old matron of Europe simply replied that she thought that was a most cruel and unusual punishment; she had only ever sent men as far away as Australia.

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